The motorcycle chronicles of Jackie & Valentino

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Vif lies in the Alps, just a few kilometers from Grenoble, the flattest city of France, surrounded by one of the most magnificent mountain range in the world. As we rode into the village of Vif the day prior to this amazing ride, I stopped to ask for direction since GP (that’s how Jackie named the Zumo, everything and everybody’s got a name for this adventure), was slightly confused, due to major construction been done on the streets:

    “ I am not lost, just recalculating” says GP. :mully

    At that very moment, a pleasant and smiling, friendly teenage girl walks up to us and says: “bonjour c’est Eloise”.

    Eloïse? I replied, how is that possible? :norton

    She was maybe 4 or 5 last time I saw her. Serendipity had struck again, one of the daughters of our friends surely had an excellent sense of timing.

    Jackie stepped off ST, received a warm embrace, and both of them slowly guided me home through the narrow streets of the village of Vif.

    The night coming back from our fantastic ride, we had a great meal together, feasted on a stew of crayfish and chicken, a side-dish of Gratin Dauphinois, a sampling of local cheeses, and a home made strawberry tart for desert.

    Resonating from the stereo speakers’, Mano Negra, and Manu Chao kept us entertained.

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    If my memory serves me right, there might have been a copious amount of wine involved. On that topic, I have been trying to keep track, and I think this is where we stand so far:

    Cheese:​
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    Chalancé, une epoisse affinée au marc de Bourgogne.
    Cancouillotte du Franc Conté.
    Petit Livarot de Pays d’Auge.
    Morbier du Juras
    Munster Cumin-Carvi, production locale.
    Bleu Brest du Juras
    Beaufort.
    Laguiole.
    Bleu de Sassnage.
    Chêvre sec et Chêvre crémeux du Vercors.
    Ti-Loup.
    Reblochond.
    Carré à la Sauge produits du Diois.
    Cantal, region d’Ardèche.

    And Wines (those are the ones I could remember)​
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    Clairette de Die.
    Cerdon Rosé, du Bugey region Bourg en Bresse.
    Crémant production Mousseux local.
    Graves.
    Gewitztraminer Grand Cru 1974.
    Rosé Pinot Noir.
    Chateau Neuf du Pape.

    Although Viviane (our host), and I have only met but a few times, we are deeply bonded to each other. To understand this bond, you need to know that as the war was raging through Europe, both our grandmothers Simone and Liliane already friends for quite some time would give birth to two girls. As the war ended the daughters would become equally close growing up in the sleepy village of Les Essars le Roi, no to far from Paris.
    They in turn would each have their first child named Viviane and René, (aka Valentino), this time born countries apart.

    To add a little twist to this story, consider that I married a women named Liliane (aka Jackie), who bare the same name as my Grand Mother’s best friend, and my brother married a women who bares the same name as my friend Viviane.

    Hope I didn't confuse anybody, needless to say that if you ask me if I was really surprise to see Eloïse show up just at the right place, just at the right time, I would have to say no...

    Seems like names and serendipity really want to be playing their part in this trip, I like it. :smile6

    Sunday,our ride through the twisty was our warmest day yet 25C. Monday we rested, and as it should, it rained for most of the day.

    The plan was to cover the 1000 km to Biarritz on the Atlantic coast in two sleeps. Stop around Millau to go see the viaduct then another stop when we would start seeing some palm threes (loosely following El Camino de Compostela). After all this is not the European edition of Iron Butt, we were just starting to get into a rhythm, just realizing that we did not need to be at work anytime soon, so why rush it.

    Something like this
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    We Left around 10:00 this morning, heading South South-West once again, direction Valence,le Puy-En-Venay, l’Ardèche et le Cantal, destination Aurillac. As we raced through the elevated plateaux of the massif central, ACDC’s thundering drums and squealing guitars kept my adrenaline level in check.

    Far far to the West I could see white peaks, could it be the Pyrenees already taunting us with the promise of Spain looming close.

    A few random pics

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    Then Rush’s Red Barchetta came on, and I opened up the throttle, ST responded with a roar to the screeches of Geddie Lee’s voice. Indeed life was good.

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    We stopped in Murat for a well deserve sugar and caffein fix.

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    It was pretty cold, and it was about to get wet, we just didn’t know it yet.
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    Hum it all looks good what should I get?
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    I'll take a bit of everything please.
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    When Jackie is happy so then is Valentino:crash
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    By the time we reached the village of Estaing, we were wet cold and ready to call it a day.
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    This is one of the oldest best-preserve village in France, despite the cold rain, we couldn't resist taken ST for a bit of sightseeing.
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    The narrow streets
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    And a couple more
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    There was about 60 km to Aurillac and that would be enough. Since our intention was to avoid the superslab as much as possible, and I kept our speed in check through the many small villages, we ended up covering, less ground than we had planned.

    I also forgot my heavy gloves in Vif, so needless to say that my mesh gloves did not do much too protect my hands from the cold rain.

    Tonight we would spend the night in the very small village of Giou de Mamou at the house of Michèle and Alain Lafon a quaint B&B just 4 km from Aurillac, the heart of le Cantal and the umbrella capital of France.

    Next pit stop would have to involve a palm three...
    #21
  2. folknride

    folknride Old Adventurer

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    Great RR - You're managing to make me forget Trailer Park Boys blaring in the other room!
    Keep 'em coming!!!!:clap
    #22
  3. Saeed

    Saeed Life-long learner

    Joined:
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    Great ride report &Great pics I’ll continue to follow your adventures<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    Thanks for taking us along.<o:p></o:p>
    #23
  4. robincx

    robincx Wherever u go, there u r

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    Your great trip is making me soooo jealous. :rofl
    Nice photos.
    #24
  5. samuraider

    samuraider eurasia-riders

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    wow perfect :tb


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    #25
  6. gaulstat

    gaulstat Keep on riding

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    Wow! your pictures bring back deep memories. Thanks for posting your report. Post more pics.
    #26
  7. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Intalles toi confortablement​


    yup you gotta have cheese​
    #27
  8. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    April 30th
    Today would prove to be the most challenging riding day yet (in terms of weather).

    We left Giou de Mamou around 08:30, after breakfast. I was reading this while eating a croissant.

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    First stop would be a motorbike shop in Aurillac to replace my gloves than, head for Millau for targeted sightseeing. That was the original plan anyways, but as we made our way to Aurillac under a gloomy sky, large black clouds heavy with rain were sitting low on the plateaux, where they had left some snow early in the morning. Brrrr!! We had just lost 1 more degree. Time to head south. Thank you Merino, IceBreaker is one of the best piece of gear you can wear.

    Under a light drizzle we started the day. What a great opportunity this would be to test my new PR2&#8217;s
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    I felt as good on ST while rolling on the sinuous roads of the Massif Central, as I had under dryer conditions.

    Half way to Millau we revised our plans and decided to head south in search of warmer weather.

    Sometimes a bridge, is a bridge, is a bridge.

    Not many pics of the morning

    There is always crap somewhere, we humans are good at that
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    An also that
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    Not before arriving in Rodez at about 1330, after having made little progress towards Biarritz, had the sun decided to peek and the mercury to raise to 12 C.

    Better, but not quite there yet. Our minimum level of comfort for ridding (with the gear we have) is 16 C, 14 is ok but 18 is much better. Further south we caught hail, and had to waited it out under a bridge for a while. So it kind of made up for that other bridge that we missed. The next 50 km were on the highway, and we where constantly bounced left and right by strong crosswinds especially on the bridges.

    And than it got reeel nice reeel quick

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    By the time we hit Toulouse temperatures had warmed and we hit some minor traffic around 1700.

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    Should have "planed" for a tour of Airbus.

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    This was a great chance to learn more of the European traffic protocols. Indeed, Europeans have quite different driving habits than North Americans. First they know the difference between a stop and a merge, two they know how to yield. Cell phones are hands free, we did not see many drivers with a phone in their hands or stuck to their ears. There are fewer traffic lights, and even fewer stop signs. Instead of having a light signal you have a roundabout:norton , sometimes several lanes wide with many exits.

    To enter: you look, if you can, you go, if you can&#8217;t you yield, when your in you have priority, signal to exit and your done.

    Complicated? :gerg These ethereal concepts haven't quite made it to this side of the pond yet.


    Lane splitting is allowed and drivers gave us space, cagers are more aware and respectful of motorists than on North American roads.

    The same is also true of bikers, both vehicles share the road without antagonizing each other. Although traffic moves quicker, the drivers have been relatively predictable. Threading is also easier because cars are smaller. After passing, bikers will regularly extend their right foot to wave to the accommodating driver.

    It was to the tunes of Bob Marley that we arrived in Gimont. A bit short of Auch, the sun was shinning again and we had a promise from the weather lady, that the further south we went, the better it got.

    It had been another great day of riding.

    Jackie:sweeti & Valentino:rayof were slowly getting their groove

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    #28
  9. FatherX

    FatherX so͞oˈpərflo͞oəs

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    Thank you for the peek into your old "neighborhood".
    Beautiful and strange to a country boy from the middle of the USA.
    We do have a common love of cheese and espresso!
    Be safe and enjoy the road with your mate.

    :super:ricky
    #29
  10. kootenay kid

    kootenay kid Lets Ride

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    Very nice!:thumb
    #30
  11. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Tomorrow is employee appreciation day, some call it Labour Day, the French celebrate La Fête du Travail on the first of May by offering Muguet (Lilies of the Valley).

    May 1st
    Last night ST spent the night in the small banquet room of the Hotel in Gimont. The French really like motorcycles.

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    Jacky wanted to go spend the night on the town
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    So Valentino followed her out
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    It was nice to walk around stretching out the road and the cold, we had pizza Libanese style, and a bunch of local beers in a local pub full of local people having more local beers.

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    Too bad it was such a cool evening, the pool at l&#8217;hotel Au Coin du Feu sure looked inviting. The objective of the day was met.

    We found a palm three
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    saw some old buildings
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    The next morning rested, we left at the very reasonable time of 1130 and headed for the coast.

    We only stopped in a rest area for a quick pic nick of cheese, saucisson, and a small glass of Gascogne, a regional red purchased for 2 Euros at tiny gas station, they also sold fresh tomatoes, and warm bread.

    Thou shall obey the chocolate rule
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    To the voices of Portundo, and Aznavour we raced for the coast. Passing our first vineyards with sizable leaves already grown, we caught our first whiffs of the Atlantic 12 km from the shore.
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    In case you get hungry
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    Or thirsty
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    White picked fence
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    Our first stop along the south-western coast of France was Capbreton a small community well known by surfers in search of the perfect wave.

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    Hard to think that we had just a few days ago left the Alps, the landscape changes so quickly.

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    This dood wished we was on the North shore, Hang Loose man:wave

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    The Boardwalk
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    Jackie was ready for a stroll
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    Found a bike event but it was wrapping up by the time we got there.
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    We followed the coast through Bayonne, than landed in Biarritz, found a nice hotel in the center for 63.00 Euros, a bit steep but last night we only paid 38.00, and it also was May long weekend.

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    Biarritz is quite posh, boardwalks, cafés, and designer stores. Its beaches parceled by rocky shores, there are tapas bars, and cozy restaurants, you can watch the crashing waves, and the numerous suffers.
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    Maybe I should get a new suit
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    Like Shakespeare in the park but more like Molière by the ocean

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    The port
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    The city has a distinguished yet quite relax and festive feel to it. Walking around the old port you hear people speak many languages, giving it that perfect European flavor.

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    We now have been on the road since April 21st, and have done a little more then 2000 km, (less than 200 km a day) :poser Crossed 4 countries from the northern sea to the Atlantic no currency change no border crossing.

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    the sun was coming down
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    So we headed that way

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    It was time for dessert, we had a choice:

    This place
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    Or this one
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    Chocolate ice cream spiked with Piments d&#8217;espelettes (local hot chilies).

    :ear chocolate?

    Lets go look at the sunset
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    Time to go home
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    Merci Biarritz
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    Demain les Pyrénées y despues España.

    Hasta la proxima...
    #31
  12. gaulstat

    gaulstat Keep on riding

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    Jackie & Valentino.

    Thanks again for the pics, and did you had any problems with the language, or parlez vous Francais? :wink:
    #32
  13. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Your welcome
    Le Français comme première langue, then came English, hablamos Español tambien, &#65532;e un po de Italiano anche.
    #33
  14. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    The first of many to come
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    ST spent her first night under the star, it suited her just fine, and I could keep an eye on her from our room window.

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    The only way we realized that we were now in Spain was when the road signs changed from French to Spanish, we missed the welcome to Spain sign.
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    If I was lucky enough to see my cousins after 34 years, it was now Liliane&#8217;s turn to reconnect with her family. We left sunny and festive Biarritz, and headed south first through Bilbao.

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    Then Santander the economic center of the region

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    Eventually we found Suances, a small yet booming village in the province of Cantabria in northern Spain. The village is surrounded by several beaches, and in the summer months it is invaded by tourists in search of fun under the sun.
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    For us Suances is a very special village, not only is it Liliane&#8217;s dad's birth place, it is also were her mom lays in her final resting place.

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    We also visited the village of Santillana del Mar a medieval village typical of northern Spain. Altough the village is very well kept it is very touristy and it felt like the inhabitants had traded their for prosperity.
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    We were overwhelmed by the kindness, simplicity, and generosity of the people who welcomed us into their home. Plus, when your cousin is a great cook, and has for mission to make you sample as many local delicacies as you can in as little time as possible, you know that you will not go hungry.
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    Spain as many other European countries has a rich tradition of foods, and drinks (comidas y bebidas) that dates back hundreds of years, and that have changed very little since. These deep-rooted traditions of simple regional products prepared in a simple ways, provide a mosaic of dishes that reflects the close bond that people share with the earth and the sea. Even in the larger supermarkets, you find lot of local products advertised.

    Una Paella
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    Frankly, in North America, be it in Canada or the States we are completely clueless when it comes to food. It seems that sadly our tradition is to spend as much time as we possibly can in the acquisition of wealth, so that we may spend it on things that we think we need in order to make us happy.
    Don&#8217;t get me wrong Europeans like their Dvd players as much as anybody else, but it is quite refreshing to discuss shopping habits with French and Spaniard, and find out that they have never heard of Wallyworld. You get a funny look when you tell them it's open on Sundays, and 24 hours a day.

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    "What in the world do you need to purchase on a Sunday that cannot wait for tuesday afternoon" they ask?

    "Sorry" I don't have the answer to that one.

    Then comes the next question:

    "Where do you get your fresh produces, meats and dairies... if you don&#8217;t have a weekly market"?

    "Huh well.... we go to Superstore, and buy stuff shrink wrapped that all looks, and taste the same, mostly comes from thousands of miles, grown in a soil laden with fertilizer and pesticides, picked before its ripe, and then trucked for thousands of miles. -Monsanto style-.

    A hairy donkey

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    France has over 247 homologated different types of cheeses, this does not include micro producers. Belgium, as small as it is offers more then 400 different types of beers to choose from. The small province of Asturias in Spain has dozen of local hams, and over 40 different types of registered brands of cheeses, and none of it is processed. We have already seen more species of domesticated cows since, traveling from the country side of Holland to Northern Spain, than in several Canadian and US crossings we've done in the past. It seems that we in North America have completely lost touch with reality.

    Jamon Iberico -Pata Negra-
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    Ok I&#8217;ll stop this rant, I love both Canada and the US very much, and I do not want to alienate anybody, but despite many many trips to Europe over the years, I am always amazed to see so many people taking the time to socialize over a beverage served in a non-disposable container, with their dogs sleepily lying next to them in a local establishment.

    Chorizo por favor
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    I cannot help but wonder if there is any correlation between the socialization factor, and the fact that there is rarely more then one television set per household?

    We left the village of Suances on Sunday morning, and it was difficult to say goodbye, but is never easy to do so after such a warm, and sincere welcome. We zig an zagged through the Picos de Europa, sandwiched between mountain and ocean, the view was incredible. But we did not take many pics, it was mostly overcast.

    Here are a few
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    Lunch was in a road-side restaurant in the middle of nowhere, we had for 12 Euros a seafood soup made with large shrimps, and fresh shellfish, fresh grilled sardines with French fries, a glass of local red wine, for dessert home made lemon tart and cinnamon flavored rice pudding, and an expresso. The Buffalo on the Manitoba license plate attracted quite a crowd.

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    Our next stop is Oviedo, the capital of the province of Asturias where Jackie&#8217;s sister anxiously waits for our arrival....
    #34
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    dood.. you're torturing me with all those French sweet delights!! :tb
    How can you ever be satisfied with riding when you get home again. :(:

    :thumb

    :lurk
    #35
  16. gaulstat

    gaulstat Keep on riding

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    Mois aussi ma premiere langue etais le Francais et maintenant au USA ces l'anglais.

    Hopefully, some day I will ship my GSA and ride the road of Europe for an all month. Before that I have plan of riding from Seattle to Prudho bay this summer of course if my job and time permit.

    Thanks again for the great pics and the story behind the pics.

    #36
  17. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Oviedo, the capital of the Principality of Asturias.​

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    Asturians are a very proud people. They say that &#8220;Asturias es España y lo demás tierra reconquistada&#8221;

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    Meaning that Asturias is Spain and what&#8217;s left is land re-claimed. It mostly holds true because at a point in history, practically everything to the north was French, and most everything to the south was Moor (Berber and Arab).

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    Two monks, Máximo and Fromestanus, founded the city in 761. But their are traces of occupation since the first century in Roman times. Weather-wise it&#8217;s quite similar to to Oregon and BC, maybe a bit warmer.

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    San Miguel de Lillo Pre-Roman
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    I found the city interesting, it felt a bit like Paris with wide avenues and rounded buildings decorated with, wrought iron balconies.

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    Jackie was at it again

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    Its small (187 km2 with a metropolitan population of about 227000), and it sits amid a mountainous region.

    A view from the top

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    The beaches of the Bay of Biscay are less then 25 km away. We were not to impressed by the over develop beach front, to many "pisos"
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    Because the population is dense and many have apartment in the center, the city is bustling with the daily activity, but not so crowded that you feel engrossed by the density. For reference compare it to Kingston, Ontario with an area of 450 km2 and about 120000 in population, and you get an idea.

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    We have now being in Oviedo for four days, and are slowly starting to get acclimatized to the rhythm of Spain. There is a day care center next to Liliane aunt&#8217;s piso, and it is open from 07:45 to 20:00. Most businesses open at 10:00 then close from from 13:30 to 16:30, and then re-open until 20:00. The larger stores and supermarkets are open all day, but close at 18:00.
    Companies give their employees at least an hour and a half for lunch, civil servants work from 09:00 to 14:00.

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    They really like Woody Allen there

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    The market in the center of town runs 3 times a week, on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Most restaurants and bars are closed one day of the week, and several close on Sunday.

    Eating habits takes some getting use to: you have breakfast when you get up, so far so good, easy enough to handle. Then anything after that gets slightly complicated, from 1100 til 1430 only snacks are allowed, locals refer to them, as pinchos or tapas (solo par picar) only to eat a little something.

    Then at or around 1430 lunch (la comida) starts, but not much later then 1530. This is usually the biggest meal of the day. Of course during that time snacks are mostly unavailable.

    Time for another Paella
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    After 1600 to at least 1930 it is snack time again (la merienda), but this time it leans more on the sweet side at the cafeteria, or pasteleria.

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    Since we're on the topic we went to Valor to have Churros con Chocolate, they have been making that stuff since 1889, Churros is a very light dough that is deep fried, sprinkled with sugar, and served hot to dip in dark chocolate presented in a cup at 75 C.

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    Then from 2000 to about 2230 sometimes later is dinner time (la cena), a fairly light meal.

    But not always.:evil
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    If you think that the Spaniards spend most of their time eating, or drinking something, you&#8217;ve got it figured out. Anytime not mentioned above is usually spent drinking a coffee, a freshly squeezed juice (zumo), a beer, a glass of cider, or a glass of wine in any of the multitude of establishments such as wine bars, and sidrerias that adorn the streets.

    Without missing a drop:1drink
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    At the grocery store, we purchased 4 bottles of wine, a 1lt bottle a water, a bag of chips, a lt of orange juice, and a can of anchovies&#8217; stuffed olives 11.45 Euros (about $16,00 cdn) and the most expensive item was the OJ. At least they have their priorities straight.

    Nothing like a nice piece of meat hanging out at the bar.

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    We have been privileged to be guided through the city streets by my brother in law (mi Cuñado). Don Heradio Cano Gonzalez. Born in Matagalpa in Nicaragua, he came here during the Sandinist era. A Doctor in law, and a Notary, he&#8217;s published 2 books. At the young age of 73 he still spends half the day at his law practice.

    He maintains a simple approach to life, and most everything he says is tinted with humor. What a privilege it was to have such a guide to enjoy the city with.

    [​IMG]

    He provided us with historical comments on many of the building, and churches we encountered, as well as on the specific aspect of the cultural, social, and political life of the Oviedences and the Asturianos.

    [​IMG]

    We took pictures of the house where Liliane&#8217;s family was born

    [​IMG]
    On the street that bares her family's name.

    [​IMG]

    Last night we went to a piano concerto featuring the soloist Carmen Peyes.
    Tomorrow, Friday we take the Camino del Sur, and head for Santiago de Compostela, in the province of Galicia.

    Muchas Gracia Oviedo, hasta luego
    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Vankouver
    I fell into a deep depression for the next 3 months after we got back home :dog
    #38
  19. uxc

    uxc adventure nerd

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,348
    that is the worst part about an epic ride.
    #39
  20. Irishdude

    Irishdude Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Oddometer:
    52
    To stop ye gettin depressed get planning yer next trip
    #40